Therefore Country made this week On June 16, the federal holiday, MPs resurrect a call to end a loophole in the Constitution to commemorate the last time enslaved blacks learned they were free.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Georgian Parliamentarian Nikema Williams to amend Article 13 to prohibit slavery or involuntary slavery except in the form of criminal sanctions. Fixed tied press. He said he would reintroduce it.
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The exceptions that have been granted since 1865 have led to the general practice of forced labor for felony.
Social justice advocates say this created generations of black families who were exposed to mass imprisonment and poverty, and the effects are still being felt today. juinteenth Markley said it seemed like the right time to tackle this “giant systematic racism in the middle of the Constitution”.
“Now that we are celebrating, if you do, you should know about the 13th Amendment and the end of slavery and its final announcement… At the same time, the 13th Amendment was flawed.” Lee said. Mentionned. “It allowed the state to be arrested, convicted and returned to slavery for whatever reason.”
The former Confederate states were encouraged to find ways to keep the momentum of slavery going after the Civil War by correcting loopholes in criminal sanctions. They used a restriction called “black law”. It is a law which obliges blacks to interact with benign people, to speak loudly and not to give in on the sidewalk. Those targeted are detained and effectively enslaved for these minor actions.
The so-called “abolition amendment” was presented as a joint resolution in December. Mainly endorsed by Democrats in the House and Senate, it failed to gain traction until the end of the session. Markley said his hope is to ignite the national movement.
This question is important to Williams, a black woman who grew up in the South. She wants this law not to be seen through the lens of money, and what the loss of prison labor means. Instead, she says, the relationship between the history of the prison system and its color must be viewed in a “human-centered” way.
“Our people are already in chains and enslaved for money,” Williams said. “We have to make sure that we are really moving forward and we have to avoid spending money on crutches. Why do we continue to perpetuate the sins of the founding of the country and the history of the country? . “
One of the movement’s long-standing groups is Worth Rises, a criminal justice advocacy group helping to roll out the bill. Biancatilek, executive director of Worth Rise, said the amendment had a major impact today. Trapped workers earn up to $ 1 a penny for their contributions and are unreliable if they have to work when they hurt their jobs or get sick.
“We are talking about people who can be beaten for not working. People can be denied phone calls, visits and contact with their families, ”Tyrek said. “People can be put in a cell. People can set their record in the long run.
Jorge Renault, director of the Latin American National Criminal Justice Department of Justice and Parole, said the sanctions were imposed on him after he was unable to complete part of his work. He spent most of his 27 years in a Texas prison, spending a lot of effort picking cotton, chopping down trees and smoothing roads. Texas does not pay jailed workers.
For Renault, 64, what was worse than unpaid was his lack of self-esteem.
“It’s not just the choice to work, it’s the choice to do anything,” he said. “We live in a country where we are proud of our personality… You are worth nothing and you are still and always in awe of belonging to a country.”
Supporters of the bill say they target forced labor rather than voluntary prison labor programs.
“What we’re saying is we need to demonstrate the value of our work and not be forced to work against their will,” Tyrek said.
In Renault’s experience, prison work was often carried out without racial equality. White imprisoned workers were often assigned low-labor-intensive tasks, such as running prison libraries and refurbishing computers. However, their black and Latin American counterparts were forced to do the cooking and washing. He noticed a similar trend three years ago when he visited the prison unit with lawmakers.
“Maybe preparing for something in the free world or a tech-based job… is still only for white people,” Renault said.
In more than 20 states, unique governance documents dating from the abolition of slavery in the 19th century still contain similar provisions, including human servitude and prison labor. Nebraska and Utah, represented by Republican senators, were the first two to amend the Constitution on the exact same issue last year thanks to a voter-approved initiative. Only Colorado got there early and removed those words from the ballots in 2018.
Merkley is optimistic that his fellow Republicans will eventually support the bill.
“You shouldn’t be a partisan in this regard,” Merkley said. “I think all Americans should want to end slavery in our constitution.”
Williams also doesn’t want this presented as a partisan issue.
“As long as everyone in this country is working with us to take full advantage of our American promises, regardless of their background, zip code or bank account, I would love to work with you. ‘I will,” says- She. Mentioned. “This includes ensuring that the Constitution eliminates involuntary slavery from the country.”
According to historians, the Thirteenth Amendment stems from President Abraham Lincoln’s decision that the Emancipation Proclamation was not sufficient to abolish slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the South in 1863, but was not enforced in many places until the end of the Civil War two years later. Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but the last black slave could not speak until June 19, when Union soldiers announced freedom in Galveston, Texas. .. .. This day has been doubled on June 16th.
Meanwhile, Lincoln proposed a constitutional amendment to completely dismantle slavery. The Senate passed the Thirteenth Amendment in 1864, and the House of Representatives continued into early 1865, just two months before Lincoln’s assassination. The amendment was then ratified by the state.
Constitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate and the ratification of three-quarters of the Legislative Assembly. They are also rare.
Tylek of Worth Rises wants other lawmakers to understand that the exception to the ban on slavery is unacceptable.
“Saying nothing other than slavery is a big stain on our culture, our constitution and our country,” Tyrek said. “We must be able to say slavery – there are no exceptions.”
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